Interests: Making, Digital Fabrication, Values, Equity, Feminism, Creativity, Education, Critical Thinking, Play, Sustainability
I am a PhD student at UNCC in Computing and Information Systems with a research area of HCI, advised by Dr. Celine Latulipe and Dr. David Wilson. After graduating from Wellesley College in 2014 and working under Dr. Orit Shaer in the Wellesley HCI lab, I began my PhD in Fall 2015 with a vague interest in creativity and novel interaction. Shortly after staring, Dr. Wilson approached me asking if I'd be interested in helping start a Makerspace on campus. It seemed easy enough to put some machines in a room and encourage people to be social and creative. Several years later, my understanding of what's possible for making is still evolving and I have far more questions than answers.
My current research considers the growing impact of the Maker phenomenon on society and asks what values or practices we should be embedding into Makerspaces to ensure a humane future. This involves using AI to look at trends in the corpus of stuff created by makers and using techniques from HCI to design local interventions that prompt new practices and mindsets. Much of my research work has been driven by the needs, goals, and alongside the people of the local maker community, followed up with a reflective and critical research lens.
My general goals in research and other endeavors involve looking holistically and critically at how technology intersects with various aspects of humanity. As technologists, what kind of world are we creating? What kind of world do we want to create? What decisions are we making without realizing it? What values govern those decisions and what sort of prompts for reflection could draw attention to critical moments and lead us to uncover new possibilities?
As of Fall 2019, I am supported by the GAANN fellowship with Dr. David Wilson as a teaching mentor. My teaching interests include leveraging digital fabrication and other forms of making in formal and informal learning environments to incorporate ways of thinking and doing from other disciplines, promote critical thinking, and prompt discussion about broad trends in technology.
Driven by an ethnographic account of the lack of guidance for makerspace leaders and a desire to address some of the well-known critiques of the making phenomenon as technosolutionist, this research project asks what should be happening in the making world? As makerspace leaders ourselves, what should we be fostering or cultivating? If we extend HCI's commitment to making as a site of democratization and participation in technological production, how do we ensure that the output of the making phenomenon is humane? Through a series of empirical studies, we investigate the nature of mindsets and practices that live in the maker world but resemble in some way sensitivities of the HCI world. These studies, combined with a theoretical investigation of the values in making and HCI, are contributing to our developing normative theory of making. The theory will provide much needed guidance for future researchers, leaders, and makers to generate versions of making that mitigate the critiques and fulfill the promises of democratization and participation.
Our Makerspace is in the College of Computing and Informatics and focuses on digital fabrication. We serve the UNCC community from all departments and strive to foster community and enable all sorts of personal, research, or class projects. My work with the space has been as student supervisor, working closely with Dr. Wilson to manage the student staff, oversee daily operations, and nuture the community. I see the potential in spaces like ours to not only serve needs that arise, but also to seek opportunities and synergies, driving the development forward.
Statement Making is a digital fabrication fashion, co-directed by Madison Dunaway and myself and co-sponsored by the College of Computing and Informatics and College of Arts and Architecture. As Makerspace and Fab Lab leaders, Madison and I created the event to break free from departmental silos and traditional academics, aiming to create pathways into digital fabrication and for interdisciplinary collaboration. Running this event for 3 consecutive years has been a remarkable window into the creative energy of the student body and a glimpse of what sort of dynamic bold energetic voice indivudals and communities might have through digitial fabrication under the right circumstances.
Laser cut textiles and Kombucha fabric
Cubes with embedded electronics made from wood, cardboard, acrylic, grass, and string
Statement Making designs made from interlocking laser cut paper pieces. Madison Dunaway + co created the piece on the left